Mark Ruddy has been commissioned to paint dozens of murals in some rather swank digs in New York City during an art career that began in the early '80s. Concord, though, has always been home.
So when the opportunity to contribute to the annual Friends Program Auction presented itself, he jumped in with both feet.
Ruddy will create a portrait - approximately 24-by-20-inches - for the highest bidder, painting head, neck and shoulders on a plain background, a task he would normally charge several thousand dollars for.
"This is the town I grew up in, so to come back here and be able to contribute, it's kind of a nice feeling," Ruddy said. "My aunt was the elementary school art teacher here for more than 30 years, and I always think of her when stuff like this happens because she would be so proud. She always encouraged me to be an artist growing up, so it's sort of like coming full circle."
Ruddy first got involved with the Friends Program last year, donating a completed painting, but this year opted to offer the chance for a personal portrait. The winning bidder will meet with Ruddy and discuss the options before he creates the portrait.
Ruddy grew up in Concord before attending the University of New Hampshire and then embarking on a career in New York City, where he first learned to paint after studying his roommate as he worked. Ruddy would go on to develop a business painting murals in private homes during his 25 years there, something he still does on occasion for long-time clients.
But his appreciation for Concord runs deep. Several years ago he had the opportunity to move back into his childhood home, which was a chance he couldn't pass up. His painting studio is in his sister's old bedroom.
The walls of the house are dotted with his works and works by others, including a few paintings he did of his father, who occupied the house until he passed away several years ago.
Concord, indeed, is in Ruddy's blood. His donated landscape painting of Long Pond was purchased last year by someone "who said they drove by the pond every day on their way to work," Ruddy said. He is excited to be involved again this year and to continue to give back to his own community.
"It's a really, really great program to be a part of," Ruddy said. "It's been really nice that I've been embraced by the community. It makes me feel good."